Pre-production is all about planning. What do we need to accomplish? Who is our audience? Where does this need to happen? Who are the right people for the job? Are there any special skills or equipment needed?
These are just a few of the questions we'll ask and answer in pre-production. It takes time to plan well and in the end it is one of your best investments within the budget.
Here is where we learn what it is that you want done. We get the big picture first and that leads us to a number of questions to determine what resources we will have available and what we need to find.
A concept is a statement of what we need to accomplish and a little about how we are planning to go about doing it. This may be enough for a lot of projects to set the parameters and deliverables. In some cases a detailed treatment will be needed. By this point, you are on the clock. What a treatment does is a little like a 'pre-script'. Some sample dialog or narration is written to establish tone, overall scene descriptions may be written and some of the other pre-production details may be established to better show how we will get to the end product.
Once we know why we are creating and the 'ingredients' that will go into it, we can outline how much it will cost. The number of days on site, the size of the crew needed, specialized skills (i.e. teleprompting or dolly moves) are established as well. What kind of graphics are needed and are they extensive are also key questions. What is the voice over cost or will there be other, on screen, talent needed. Scripting, location scouting and fees and estimated travel costs are all put into the mix to help arrive at a budget. Depending on how detailed we can be at this point, we may call it a quote or an estimate with a +/- contingency as a percentage.
Even though there is 'scriptwriting' in nearly every bid, there may not be a script, per se. Scriptwriting can also entail developing interview questions designed to get answer to fit an overall storyline. It is the development of that storyline as well. Scripting also includes the description of scenes in as much detail as is needed to finish the project. Many scripts are done in house, but if a specific style or expertise is needed that we can't supply in house, then we work with the right talent for the job.
Many of our projects do not need pictorial storyboards. Sometimes a 'word board' will do that describes the visual aspect of the show. If a full storyboard is needed, we will bring in the right talent for the job so that the visual nature of the show is designed and agreed upon before production.
If a production calls for on screen talent or even picking the right voice for the voice over, there will be a casting call. Some calls will be as simple as selecting a look or sound from an online talent agency or going as far as bringing people in to audition for parts. Costs associated with any of these processes will vary and be reflected in the budget.
If we need to shoot in a specific location, we may ask to scout that place first so that there are no surprises once we get there with a full crew. During the scouting trip we have the opportunity to introduce ourselves and what our needs are. This begins a relationship that will make the production go smoothly when we arrive for the shoot. Location scouting is also looking for something described in the script, but not necessarily known before production. For example, the script may call for a little white country church. After finding likely prospects online or over the phone, we would ned to go out and see if it will actually work as needed.